HAMPTON ROADS, Va - Chef Patrick Evans-Hylton (www.VirginiaEatsAndDrinks.com) shows us how to make a holiday version of the Blizzard on the Beach cocktail and a tasty caviar spread.
BLIZZARD ON THE BEACH COCKTAIL
If you have to be snowed in during the winter, you might as well bring the blizzard indoors. Whether the weather outside is frightful or not, my Blizzard On The Beach is a rich, smooth drink that brings an avalanche of flavor.
We always like to support Virginia eats and drinks first, so we start our cocktail with rum crafted by our friend Chris Richeson at Chesapeake Bay Distillery in Virginia Beach. The distillery’s Chick’s Beach Rum is made with organic panels sugar and wild yeast from the beach. Chris says “… Our rum yields a truly unique flavor.”
You can shake these drinks up as guests arrive, or multiply the recipe to make a large batch for the crowd. Here’s how I do it:
In a cocktail shaker add 1 ounce rum, 1 ounce amaretto, 1 ounce creme de cacao, and 2 ounces coconut cream. Add ice to the shaker, seal, and shake thoroughly to mix and chill. Strain in a highball or martini glass and garnish with a light sprinkling of cocoa powder on top.
More information on Chesapeake Bay Distillery at: www.ChesapeakeBayDistillery.com
CITRON ET CAVIAR SPREAD
My Citron et Caviar is delightful and elegant dip and spread wonderful during the holidays, especially at New Year’s Eve soirees.
A creamy blend of Greek yogurt and goat cheese provides a subtle base for the brightness of fresh lemon juice, and the pop of lemon zest. Chopped chives or green onions bring a bit of sharpness as well as color to the party. Here’s how I made it:
In a food processor, add 1 cup of Greek yogurt, 1 crumbled goat cheese log, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons chopped chives or green onion tops, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth, transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use. You can make this the morning of a party. Just before service, top the spread with a generous amount of caviar.
There are many ways to enjoy this dish: serve generously spread on blinis, as a dip with whole grain crackers, as a filling for tea sandwiches, or folded into an omelet.
Resources and recipes at: www.VirginiaEatsAndDrinks.com
I recently sat down with the good folks at The Fresh Market and got a little cheesy - in a good way. With an extensive offering of cheese and accouterments, a beautiful and quick platter can come together for entertaining guests.
Michael Johnson of the upscale grocer shared some of his favorite cheeses:
+ Germain Langres, a cows milk cheese that is traditionally served in the wooden box with champagne poured over it
+ Raspberry Prosecco Stilton, an exclusive to The Fresh Market
+ Esqirrou, a Basque ewe milk cheese
+ Deer Creek Blue Jay, a quintuple creme blue with infused crushed juniper berries
+ Triple creme brie (Michael likes to top it with boozy, thyme-infused cherries)
Here’s a few my my tips on creating a cheese try from my years of catering and party-giving:
+ Use a large tray, and set it out with a cheese board and knife for cutting
+ Select a variety of cheeses, including creamy and firm, mellow and sharp, heavier and lighter, and the like. Plan on 2 or 3 ounces of cheese per person
+ If chilled, take cheeses out of the refrigerator an hour ahead of time to allow them to come to room temperature
+ Arrange the cheese first, and don’t crowd the tray. Add a small place card identifying each cheese for guests
+ In open areas between the cheese, add a variety of fruit. Look for unusual varieties of grapes, fresh cherries with stems, and fresh strawberries
+ Add slices of green and red apples, as well as slices of pears. Briefly dip slices in fresh lemon juice to prevent browning.
+ Have some fried apricots, dates, and figs. Include some marcona almonds, candied pecans, and walnut halves
+ Consider some heartier elements, like olives or thin slices of Virginia country ham for the tray
+ Tuck fresh rosemary stems around to fill some spaces and add greenery
+ Around the tray perimeter, have small bowls with chutney, jams and jellies, and honey, as well as serving spoons
+ Add a homemade element, such as a cheese spread like our Citron et Caviar
+ In separate baskets, offer a variety of premium crackers, grissini, and fresh baguette already sliced into serving sizes
+ Offer serving tongs, small plates, forks, and napkins for guests. If using disposable plates, select a premium brand
There are several locations of The Fresh Market in Coastal Virginia, as well as additional stores across the state and elsewhere. Look for the grocer in Newport News, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg.
More information on The Fresh Market at: www.TheFreshMarket.com
VIRGINIA WINE OF THE MONTH CLUB
It’s always a good time for Virginia wine, and my friends at the Virginia Wine of the Month Club have been promoting it to members since 1988. At the club, Stewart Reynolds and his tasting panel team select vintages to share, including many hard-to-find wines, especially those with limited selections that are not widely distributed.
The club offers free registration, with no obligations, and shares information about the wines, winemakers, and wine scene in the state through their The Virginia Wine Journal newsletter.
One, two, three, four, six, or eight bottles of Virginia wine are shipped monthly based on the member’s tastes: all red, all white, all sweet, or a variety. There’s no membership fee, members just pay for the wine which is shipped direct. Prices start at under $25 for one bottle, plus tax.
Also included is the Virginia Wine Club Card, which offers members two-for-one tasting and 10 percent off retail purchases at more than three dozen wineries across the state.
I’ve been enjoying my shipments from the Virginia Wine of the Month Club and exploring new vintages. Look for more in future Coast Live segments on Virginia wine and my pairings and recipes.
More information at: www.VaWineClub.com